The World Health Organization has warned that 1.1 billion teenagers and young adults are at risk of hearing loss due to the unsafe use of personal audio devices, including smartphones. Smartphones provide easy access to music-listening apps and earphones are one of the many accessories packaged with smartphones. Hence, there is no surprise that they are implicated as one of the major causes of permanent hearing loss.

Related: Reduce listening to music to an hour a day – WHO

Everybody’s got something in their ear these days – in the bus, on the walkway, in school, on the bed, in the kitchen. It’s like at every turn people are plugged in with headphones. People are at high risk of permanent hearing loss but here are a few things you can do to protect yourself while you still enjoy your favourite music.

1. Get an earpiece that fits your ears. You would agree that not all headphones fit your ears. Some do not just sit well in the openings of your ears. As a result, they allow a lot of noise in. Consequently, you think the music isn’t loud enough and then you raise the volume above the safe listening level of your device. Earpiece should fit well in your ears and block out other sound

Quick fact: Your headphone volume shouldn’t get louder than about 80 decibel, which is more or less what the sound of loud traffic is like.

2. Turn the volume of your device down. Listening at high volume for a long period may damage your hearing. Most devices come with a volume level warning but many people ignore/bypass the warning. Most Android do not have this warning. In cases like this, experts advice that the volume of your device should exceed two-third of the volume bar.

3. Take a break. Give your ears a rest a WHO report suggests. The same report warns people to cut down music to an hour a day. You should not listen to 80 db of sound for more than 60 mins. After several hours, this level of sound can be damaging to your hearing. By taking a break from music, you give the ear time to relax and recover.

Whether earplugs or earpiece, be careful not to push anything far into your ears

4. Use Earplugs in concerts and clubs. There are times you hang out with friends at concerts, in clubs and bars. Traffic jams, city traffic, trains, rock concerts, sporting events, construction sites are all risky environment and pose a serious threat to your hearing. Consider wearing earplugs in places like these. They shut out sound to a large extent and that saves your hearing. It is important you get the size that you fits your ears properly.

5. Visit the doctor. Meet your doctor to test your hearing. Follow the basics on how to care for the ear. It is advised that adults should screen for hearing loss every decade or half a decade. Getting examined gets you better informed and is able to avert an imminent hearing loss. Hearing loss becomes worse when people do nothing about it.